The Help Content patternprovides a user an introduction on how to use an app, which can make them feel more comfortable interacting with it for the first time. Help is not a reflection of a poorly designed interface. Designers usually aim to make application interfaces intuitive and easy to use without relying on help or a manual to guide the user through how to use the app. However, there are times when an interface is most effective and efficient to use once some initial behaviors are learned. A single pattern for user help is not enough. Many successful apps use a combination of invitations and help patterns to aid users in uncovering features and getting the most from the tool. The best help option varies depending on the application and the audience, so make sure to test a variety of help patterns.
There are seven common examples of help patterns to keep a user on track:
How-To: Simple, succinct instructions that explain, how the application works. They can be a single page, a video demo, or part of a larger help system.
User Guide/Help System: A User Guide will likely be more in-depth than a simple How-To. While optimized for Mobile, the User Guide/Help System is akin to a user guide on desktop. User Guides will often allow for searching while providing links to relevant information.
FAQs: Typically present the most common questions from users.
Feature Tours: Highlights specific features and functionality in an app. This is not to be confused with a Product Tour, which highlights the app’s value proposition.
Tutorials: Different from a Feature Tour in that users are actually accomplishing something within the app as they learn about it. This pattern works well in apps that require initial configuration or rely on a multi-step process for engagement.
Contextual Help on Demand: Help obtained at a specific point in the application.
Feedback: Most apps have a Feedback option under Settings, which opens the Mobile email client or a web-based mail form. Ideally a web form should be embedded in the app, rather than launching a Mobile browser.
Appearance characteristics for this pattern.
Common behaviors for this pattern.
Usage guidelines for this pattern.
Fig 1. Help Content
Fig 2. More Help Content